I recall the first time I walked "the street" of Lane Murray – the long walk toward the Faith Dorm usually ended with the taunting and colorful language coming from what I now know as "J" dorms, or Administration Segregation. I would tell volunteers to expect to hear it, but just keep walking. After a few weeks, the taunting voices I once tried to tune out became voices I looked forward to hearing.
I began to pray that God would soften the hearts of these women. He has done that! Rarely do we hear arguing or cursing anymore. Their focus has changed to those they miss outside the fences, those they care for – so now we hear comments like “Pray for my son who’s in the military,” or “My mom has cancer.” Many times it is simply a kind “Thank you ladies for coming, and God bless you!”
I couldn't see their faces, but I could hear the heart cries of the ladies behind the walls of both "J" dorms. Inside the Faith Dorm at Lane Murray, I was hearing a recurrent concern for those in "SEG," so we began to pray for them. The Faith Dorm members wanted to be able to minister to those in "SEG." We weren't sure how, or if it was even possible, but we had faith that with God ALL things are possible!
A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit all the dorms on Lane Murray unit with other Discipleship Unlimited volunteers for a day of Outreach. We were allowed to visit one of the “J” dorms. We had time with each lady cell side, or with those that were able to come out to the day room. Upon leaving, we decided to sing as a group
"There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain."
Upon leaving the dorm, I'll never forget what happened. I still get chills thinking about it! Coming in unison from the cells were those same lyrics we just sang – belted out from the tops of their lungs back at us in the most beautiful voices, "There is power in the name of Jesus!" Yes there is!!
Months have passed, but our prayers continued as we tried to think of creative ways we could reach out to the ladies in "SEG." We continued to pray and wait. This past year, things began to happen when TDCJ started a new program at Lane Murray called CIPP, or Corrective Intervention Pre Release Program. I did not know the program existed until I was asked to participate. God opened a door to reach those in Administrative Segregation, and I agreed to participate.
The mission of the program is to prepare offenders with 120 days remaining in Administrative Segregation for reentry to society. Initially there were only three participants. After only two weeks, the number of participants grew to seven ladies. It has been an answer to prayer and a privilege to work with these ladies. They tell me what areas they feel they need to work on to return to their communities.
Reentry resources are gathered and issued to each lady based on her specific request and needs. The ladies have been very receptive and open to any information provided. The needs vary but have included: job placement resources, problem solving, anger management, support groups, transitional housing, finances, education, devotionals, substance abuse recovery, depression, etc. If requested, we pray together and go over a weekly devotional. The officers and staff have been very supportive of CIPP, and it has opened doors to minister to them as well.
God is on the move at Lane Murray!
Please pray for our Discipleship Unlimited Christmas outreach on December 10 and 17. We go to more than 2,000 women with hygiene items and hearts prepared to share the love of Jesus. We will also provide Christmas treats for correctional staff! Celebrate His love!